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Program to Maintain and Update Groundwater Models
Southern Ocean

Simulated Effects of Groundwater Withdrawals from Aquifers in Ocean County and Vicinity, New Jersey

By Stephen J. Cauller, Lois M. Voronin, and Mary M. Chepiga

Map of the model's study area

STATUS: Archived


AREA STUDIED: Ocean and Southern Monmouth Counties

AQUIFERS SIMULATED: Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer System, Rio Grande Water-Bearing Zone, Atlantic City 800-Foot Sand, Piney Point, and Vincentown Aquifers

MOST RECENT WITHDRAWALS SIMULATED: Monthly 2000-2003 conditions

MODEL SIZE: 11 layer, 344 rows, 196 columns

MINIMUM GRID SPACING:800 feet x 800 feet

REPORT: USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5035

Download this set of model files Archived model files are available.

Report Abstract

Rapid population growth since the 1930s in Ocean County and vicinity, New Jersey, has placed increasing demands upon the area’s freshwater resources. To examine effects of groundwater withdrawals, a three-dimensional groundwater-flow model was developed to simulate the groundwater-flow systems of five area aquifers: the unconfined Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system and Vincentown aquifer, and three confined aquifers— the Rio Grande water-bearing zone, the Atlantic City 800-foot sand, and the Piney Point aquifer. The influence of withdrawals is evaluated by using transient groundwater-flow model simulations that incorpo¬rate three withdrawal schemes. These are (1) no-withdrawal conditions; (2) 2000–03 withdrawal conditions, using reported monthly withdrawals at all production wells from January 2000 through December 2003; and (3) maximum-allocation withdrawal conditions using the maximum withdrawal allowed by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protec-tion permits at each well. Particle tracking analysis, using results from model simulations, delineated particle flow paths from production wells to the point of recharge, and estimated particle travel times.

Compared with no-withdrawal conditions, 2000–03 with¬drawal conditions reduced the amount of groundwater flow out of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system into streams, increased the net flow of water into other layers, reduced net flow into or out of storage, and reduced flow from the Kirk¬wood-Cohansey aquifer system to constant head cells.

Freshwater discharging to the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary from streams and groundwater is essential to maintaining the ecology of the bay. Examination of selected stress periods indicates that simulated base flow in streams flowing into the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary is reduced by as much as 49 cubic feet per second for 2000 to 2003 withdrawal conditions when compared with no-with¬drawal conditions.

In the three confined aquifers, water levels during periods of low recharge and high withdrawals, and high recharge and low withdrawals, were examined to determine seasonal effects on the confined flow systems. The simulated poten¬tiometric surface of the Rio Grande water-bearing zone and the Atlantic City 800-foot sand during selected stress periods indicates substantial declines from no-withdrawal conditions to 2000–03 conditions as a result of groundwater withdrawals. Cones of depression in Toms River Township, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park Boroughs, and Barnegat Light Borough developed in the potentiometric surface of the Piney Point aquifer in response to withdrawals.

Maximum-allocation withdrawals decreased flow out of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system to constant head cells, increased flow out of the aquifer system to adjacent and lower layers, and reduced groundwater discharge to streams when compared with 2000–03 withdrawal conditions. Increases in withdrawals from the Rio Grande water-bearing zone, the Atlantic City 800-foot sand, and the Piney Point aquifer result in an increase in simulated net groundwater flow into these aquifers. Base-flow reduction from 2000–03 conditions to maximum-allocation conditions of 25 to 29 cubic feet per second in all streams draining to the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor also is indicated. Potentiometric surfaces of the Rio Grande water-bearing zone, Atlantic City 800-foot sand, and the Piney Point aquifer during two stress periods of simulated maximum-allocation withdrawal conditions indicated the expansion of several cones of depression developed during 2000–03 withdrawals.

Simulation of average 2000–03 withdrawal conditions indicated the extent to which the groundwater-flow system is susceptible to potential saltwater intrusion into near-shore wells. Travel time from recharge to discharge location ranged from 11 to approximately 50,700 years in near-shore Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system wells. Those in Seaside Heights Borough, in Island Beach State Park (Berkeley Town¬ship), and in Ship Bottom Borough have particle travel times from 140 to 12,000 years and flow paths that originated under Barnegat Bay or the Atlantic Ocean from the simulation of average maximum-allocation withdrawal conditions.

Travel time along flow paths to wells screened in the Rio Grande water-bearing zone and the Atlantic City 800-foot sand from recharge to discharge point ranged from nearly 530 years to greater than 3.73 million years from the simulation of aver-age 2000–03 withdrawal conditions. Particle tracking indi¬cated that most wells screened in these aquifers derived a large part of their recharge from the Oswego River Basin, with a small portion of flow originating either beneath Barnegat Bay or to the east beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Travel time along flow paths that start beneath either Barnegat Bay or the Atlan¬tic Ocean ranged from 2,300 to approximately 134,000 years from the simulation of average maximum-allocation with¬drawal conditions.

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